Posts Tagged ‘Mexico’

Chivalry is not yet dead

Sunday, April 11th, 2010

This is the only country I’ve ever been in where men will drop babies and old women and test tubes of volatile, nuclear substances to run and help me put my grocery bags in the back of the car.

Sitting by the little (very cold!) pool at the house.

And they’re not even store employees or anything.

Just helpful dudes who think I look weak or needy or blonde.

Whateves.

I’ll take it.

It makes me feel kind of like Grace Kelly or something.

In other news, I may resemble a dainty starlet of the 1950s (at least south of border. Give me that.), but I stink like a caveman.

Did you know charcoal does not necessarily come in pre-formed, palm-sized briquettes? But that it can actually be half of a tree trunk and fourteen tiny scraps creating the substantial weight in that large, dirty bag? And when that sh*t gets under your nails, it’s like the anti-French manicure.

It’s the Brittany Grease Monkey.

The Parisian Welder.

The Provencal Blacksmith.

The I’ve Been Working on the French Railroad All The Live-Long Day

Hermanos Gonzales Super Taco de Baja

Driving to the Hermanos Gonzales Super Taco only to discover they're closed on Sundays. Boo hoo.

But there’s no time to dwell on that dainty, girly, To Catch a Thief crap now. Somehow you have to get a fire going and get the tree trunk itself going and eventually – say fourteen hours later – you’re ready to grill your chicken.

I know, it’s a lot of work.

And a lot of time.

I did not know that either.

All of this was what we Grace Kelly-types like to call “quel surprise”.

But now that I smell all camp fire-y and manly and “Me. Fire. Cook. Meat.” I’m also a bit proud of my new knowledge. Like anything hard-won, it feels like a victory. And smells like one too.

Or is that Napalm?
Or is that redundant?

In other news, I have been unwell.

Not so unwell as to render a visit to a Mexican clinic or a life flight out of here, but unwell enough to disturb my precious and deeply beloved sleep.

And that ain’t right.

I think they served yogurt like this at Auschwitz. Pineapple, celery, and cactus. And the other one is prune. Yummy.

As I’m pretty sure you all know by now, I have a minor condition called Interstitial Cystitis.
Admittedly, being a pain condition, in some cases it is anything but ‘minor’, but luckily my version is relatively minor.

Until it flares up, and then I’m always like, “How the hell did I not remember how horrible this was!?!? Get me a morphine drip and get it NOW!!!”

My IC has a few known foes: spicy peppers, excess red wine, and stress.

Checking off the latter two, the issue a couple nights ago was brought on by some excessively hot pico de gallo made with serranos heaped upon some already  spicy pulpo tacos.
Damn, they were good though.

Not quite good enough to account for my suffering, but still good.

And in the spirit of full disclosure and entertainment at any cost, step right up and gawk at the true and very pathetic story of how desperate I was the other night (FAIR WARNING: This is not for the squeamish or vomit story sensitive): Upon waking up in the wee hours and realizing my bladder was on goddamned FIRE, I mixed up and drank a huge glass of baking soda and water in order to alkalize the situation. You’ve heard of baking soda on a grease fire? For better or worse, it’s the same thing with my super sensitive ulcer-esque urine tank.

A pretty horsey spotted near Bahia Coyote.

For those of you that are visual and/or literal: It was at least 16 oz of water and a three honking tablespoons of baking soda.

And murder going down.

Out of sheer horror, I chased that with a plain – swimming pool sized – glass of water.

Then I went and laid down.

And pulled the blankets up around me.

And thought happy, alkaline thoughts.

And felt overwhelmingly like barfing.

So after a while, the barfiness gained strength and I got up and sat in the tub (thank god for the tub!!!)

There, I threw up projectile baking soda water vomit four different times into said bath (Big time Exorcist projectile vomit, yet pretty clean vomit, as things go).

And worst of all, I had to fight to keep the remainder of the hideous, nauseating beverage down because I knew I needed it to deal with problem #1, the original problem that in turn led to the new nausea problem, my angry bladder.

Eventually I went back to bed.

Many have tried, but few have mastered the in-pool-novel-writing technique. It's a matter of opportunity as much as skill and determination.

And I’m better today.

And taking it easy on the serranos.

And no red wine in sight.

Sorry about the gross story.
But you asked.

What?
You didn’t ask?
Oh apologies. It must be all this hanging out by myself in the Mexican desert making me imagine conversations with you that aren’t actually happening.

On the upside, I will be in a middle seat on USAirways Flight 330 to Phoenix in less than 48 hours. I will miss the sun and the cacti and the tranquillity, but I seriously cannot wait to go home and hug my dog and watch some cable TV.

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Glad tidings of great joy

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

(Don’t get too excited about the flamboyant title. It’s sarcasm.)

So as I sit here at my concrete breakfast table (working on some All-Bran con Pasas, a little something you gringos may better know as Raisin Bran. It’s the little differences…) in my concrete house after a relatively restful night on my concrete bed, it occurs to me that this house can never burn down. Or have its furniture rearranged.

Woman at laptop

Here's another example of self-timer and me looking a bit haggard! Wow. Technology is amazing.

Seriously, as much as I appreciate the fire resistance factor – particularly since witnessing a real blazer not too far in the distance. It lit up the horizon around it pinkish orange, turned the rest of the sky black, and brought in no less than a dozen fire trucks up from Cabo. – the bed is located precisely where a shaft of morning light gets you square in the eye at 7am every day, and if that isn’t reason to move a bed, I don’t know what is.

So anyway, back to the subject line, in recent comments there has been some bafflement as to ‘how are they so many pictures of me if I’m alone?’ and a cheeky solution or two has been offered up as well.

At first I thought, ‘Hey! My commenters are being punk asses!’ but then I realized that it was just the unintended consequences of bliss. Ignorance, of course being bliss, you couldn’t help yourselves.

That stated, please make sure you are seated when you read this next line, because I’m pretty sure – especially those of you that are super technical and run websites about Google Wave or work as Network Administrators and/or all three – your mind is about to be blown: The camera companies have taken it upon themselves to create a feature called SELF-TIMER and (get this) it allows you to place said camera on the corner of a planter or trash can or window sill or counter top and (brace yourself) run into the frame (I know!!!), and Voila! A beautiful Mexican self-portrait. Or whatever.  Fill in the blank with respect to your own location and looks.

Concrete Mexican house interior

Concrete table, concrete floor, concrete couches. Even the thing the non-working TV is on is concrete.

Moreover, I’m 99% certain this feature has existed since before I was born, as I have a distinct memory of group self-photos in my earliest childhood.

Perhaps that’s why I’m so good at it?

I’m an early adopter.

Living life on the bleeding edge.

In other news, there isn’t much other news.

Weather remains perfect.

Said fire in town.

After several weeks of curiosity and creative imaginings, I learned that the item sold for $18 pesos (about $1.50 US) as El Vampiro at one of the downtown taco shacks is not – as I envisioned – a bloody, bat meat creation, but rather a beef tostada. Ummm… What?

That sucks.

That’s totally boring.

What else?

Woman with yellow laptop

Me. Again. Similar but Different. Seriously, I would feel like an egomaniac asking friends to take all these pictures of me. And I prefer to isolate my egomania to the blog. It's less cringeworthy and perhaps more effective that way.

I only have a week left, which is kind of freaking me out.

I guess you could say I’ve gotten attached to the beach across the street and the sunny 80 degree days and productive work schedule and, yes, even the solitude.

And I want to see at least a few things (La Paz + their beaches, El Arco and the related Playa del Amor – which you have to take a kayak or glass bottom boat or some other mode of transport to) before I’m out of here. What does that mean?

Well, first that I need to rent an overpriced car, and second get a hotel room for a night or two, and third that the furious pace needs to slow down. And mostly that unless some elves come and write the book for me while I’m alseep (and listen up, elves! You’d better do a good job this time. No derivative plots about taking down the Keebler guys from the inside. The whole bit about sabotaging several batches of E.L. Fudge cookies and seizing the Hollow Tree was, well, dumb. Especially in a sci fi book about the future of food and humanity.), I’ll still have a couple weeks’ worth left once I’m back in Washington.

El Arco Cabo San Lucas

I didn't take this picture, but I wish I had. And maybe I still will. There's another a week left yet!!!

That stated, somebody crank the thermostat in the sky up over there, okay?
I’ve become accustomed to sunny, 80-degree weather, and I’m not going to reacclimatize easily or without some serious bitching. Let that serve as a warning to those of you who read this regularly, as well…

p.s.

I went and opened the back door of this place just now, and a bunch of ash and burned up palm fronds blew in.

That was a serious fire last night!!!

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If this is true, then I’m golden

Saturday, March 13th, 2010

All man’s miseries derive from not being able to sit quietly in a room alone

- Blaise Pascal

Audrey Hepburn lookalike

Channeling my inner Holly Golightly.

In the last week and two days I have proven – in spades and in excess – that I am capable of sitting quietly in a room alone.

Hell, I thrive quietly in a room alone.

I’m like a low-maintenance houseplant.

Or a cat with access to a dripping faucet and an open feedbag.

Go about your business and don’t worry about little old me. Just leave a light on and let a neighbor know I exist, okay?

All the same, I’m kind of appalled at my own absence.

Five days?
How did five days get by me?

Well, for starters, I’m sitting quietly – minus the ticky tacky tapping of Macbook keys – in a room alone all the livelong day (and night).

I could be on Mars for all I (or you) know.

Secondarily, I’m writing a chapter a day.

I should be proud of this, but the thing of it is, my (overly, I now realize) aggressive schedule had me writing two a day.

Two!?!?

Who do I think I am?

Joyce Carol Oates?

(I once read that on a real roll she writes 40 pages a day, so she is my Parthenon of big-time page quota writing)

Mexican laundry on the line

Doing my laundry old school. Feeling very salt of the earth and wondering to myself, "Do I own any clothes that aren't gray?"

Anywho, I’ve been writing a chapter a day, which honestly isn’t easy, and due to my own strange (inspired?) idea to have the first ten chapters be parallel and modern-day retellings of the life of Christ ages 30 to 32, they’re tedious as well. In addition to the time spent doing said writing, I spend about two hours a day reading Biblical interpretations.

Which I kind of hate.

Okay, I hate it a lot.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say I hate Jesus…but when you’re dreaming about the man in a scholarly kind of way, you’ve possibly/probably/definitely gone too far.

Anyway, I’m working like a dog and making daily progress. Despite this, I’ve been growing increasingly despairing.

“Why?” you ask.

Well, if you’d been paying attention, you’d know I’m growing increasingly despairing because I thought I could write two chapters a day, and it just ain’t happening.

So self-admonition and “mañana, mañana” kick in until today, when the landlord sneeringly asks me, “So are you getting any writing done? Or do you have writers’ block?”

“No,” I told him, “I’ve written nine chapters.”

The sheer look of shock was enough to make me realize that although I may not be JCO (see above for secret decoder ring), but I am doing pretty darn good.

And then he stammered, “Wow. You’re a disciplined writer.”

Giant box of Special K

I only buy cereal that's at least four times the size of my head. And yes, the house really is as round and pink and freakishly fluorescent light lit as it seems here. I've grown accustomed...

And THEN he went and made my day (sort of) by adding that he’s happy if he writes a chapter a month.

I don’t have any clue what it is that he’s writing, but whatever.

Doing some quick math, I calculated that on his ‘aggressive’ plan, it would take me three years to write this book. So two or three months instead of one ain’t too shabby.

And it certainly isn’t three years.

So yay me.

In other news:

  • The first day I got a funky tan from my ever-present necklaces, but I have hence removed now-not-so-much-ever-present necklaces and evened that mess out.
  • Last night, in a fit of “I’m sick of corn tortillas and beans” I made cabbage rolls (any of you with any kind of Eastern European or Russian heritage know what I”m talking about), and they were wonderful. And I ate more for breakfast. And more again tonight for dinner. And there are still five left. Happiness…
  • I was trying to trim an errant hair with oversized scissors and cut a chunk out of my eyebrow. Oh well. It’s hair. It’ll grow back.
  • I have a girl crush on Ellie, the fast-talking Mexican maid. Not my maid, mind you. I do my own laundry and dishes and sweeping and cleaning. Not that I mind. It’s kind of a simplified, hand-hewn Little House on the Prairie-type existence. Anyway, back to Ellie, she’s so sweet and doesn’t seem to care a lick that I only understand about 30% of what she says. And she’s willing to try all kinds of words until she stumbles into some vocabulary I recognize. The same cannot be said for everyone…  Enough said.
  • I miss TV. A lot.
  • I am really damn tired (it’s a little after midnight here) due in large part to the aggressive ray of sun that shines directly on my face every morning at 7:00am and my persistent very late night bedtimes. In other words, I couldn’t let another day go by without posting something, but in just a few more words that’s all there is to say. Be good. More soon.

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Songwriting 101

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010

I’ve been playing my guitar obsessively lately.

Obsessively as in six and seven hours a day.

Obsessively in that I can’t even feel the keys under my left hand right now because my fingertips are so numb.

Obsessively in that I wake up and hear the words and lyrics in my head and it starts to make me feel crazy to the extent that I have to get up and actually play it out loud.

That kind of obsessive.

And it’s super weird because I really haven’t been playing much at all before this…or for ages.

Dozer wanting something. This wasn't the picture I meant to upload, but I'm going with it anyway.

But like any good addiction, it’s easy to get back on the horse. Or fall off the horse? Is ‘horse’ slang for heroin? Why do I think that? Anyway, I’ve mismanaged my attempt at metaphor, so let me simply say that I am easily obsessed and this is yet another in a long string of compulsions.

Meanwhile, the thing of it is the music I’m inescapably hearing and playing is other people’s – Patty Griffin and Ani DiFranco mostly. And that’s because I love their music. And I sing in the same range. And because I don’t know how to write music. Or songs. Or melody. Or tunes.

And that’s what I tell myself.

And so it’s true.

At the same time, I have a friend who has insisted it’s easy. All you need are words and a hook. And it’s going to be extra easy for me because I’m already a writer. Pay no attention to the music part, because apparently that’s easy too.

And last night in a particular sweep of absurd bravado, my same friend insisted that I get on the songwriting immediately. “Write a song tonight or I will never speak to you again” was, I believe, the exact statement.

The triplets. On the left is the Martin, the middle is one is my first guitar, and the one on the right was gifted from a friend when he moved to the Virgin Islands. That's the one going to Mexico.

This is not Dozer, but it could be.

Of course I ignored this because, again, I can’t write songs.

But then this morning I started thinking about it, and I figured everybody’s got to start somewhere.

So why not?

Maybe try?
And see what happens?

And begin with simple inspiration, something right in front of my face. Like someone who browbeats me into writing a song and goes out of their way to try to irritate me just to laugh at the reaction and drops f-bombs like it’s Hiroshima (ooh! That’s good! That’s going in the song!) and…

That’s right.

My bully has become my muse.

And with that stated, I bring you the title and a few lines from  my very first song (no music yet, as I just dreamed this stupidity up about five minutes ago) entitled

What the Fuck Is Wrong With You?

Collaboration welcome.

Anything good that rhymes with “Someone must have dropped you on your head as a baby”?

Maybe something about lazy?

How about “I’m not sure they’ve invented the drug that can fix what you’ve got.”?

Wow! This songwriting stuff is easy!

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Don´t try this at home.

Monday, July 13th, 2009

Sometimes I have to learn lessons the hard way.

Like the lesson that other people really aren’t my responsibility.

 

Case in point: The friend hosting the week in Mexico (at a timeshare owned by her parents) revealed to me that she was going to drive to Acapulco from Guadalajara (and back) by herself, about five or six hours each way.

 

Me the night before the big drive, looking surprisingly alert despite the fact that I was running on about two hours of sleep. Other members of my party have been cropped out to protect their identity!

Me the night before the big drive, looking surprisingly alert despite the fact that I was running on about two hours of sleep. Other members of my party have been cropped out to protect their identity!

Now I’ve driven through Mexico before, and let me summarize the experience by saying that when we got back across the border in Nogales, Arizona, I literally knelt down and kissed the ground.

America never looked so fine.

 

Nonetheless, some sympathetic motherly part of me was concerned for her safety and volunteered to come along. Two is safer than one and all that.

(Otherwise known as: “You’re putting yourself in harm’s way!? Well, let me do that too!”)

 

More than anything, my concerns centered around the current drug cartel activity (a.k.a. random killings) and Federales stops. In my previous experience, the Federales would stop us, separate us, interrogate us, and search the VW van end to end, followed up what looked like a oil check, but wasn’t. They’d have us drive over a big hole in the ground – exactly like you’d see at Jiffy Lube – and someone would inspect or do god knows what underneath the car.

 

A mob of horses (per Wikipedia, this is a legitimate term) just popped out and crossed the 120 MPH freeway. I spent the rest of the trip praying we wouldn´t crash into another mob of the giant beasts.

A mob of horses (per Wikipedia, this is a legitimate term) just popped out and crossed the 120 MPH freeway. I spent the rest of the trip praying we wouldn´t crash into another mob of the giant beasts.

In hindsight, the VW van was the equivalent of wearing forehead tattoos that said “we’re drug smugglers” (although we weren’t), and something of a magnet for trouble.

Thanks to the fact the rental car was some kind of tiny Chevy, we at least had that going for us.

 

In any case, we set out from Morelia around 10am, and within two hours were in the middle of freaking nowhere.

Seriously.

No-where.

 

Now, nowhere is one thing, but Nowhere, Mexico is quite another thing.

 

Nonetheless, not wanting to add stress to the situation, I held my tongue and didn’t ask to double-check the directions or scrutinize the map. However, when my friend inquired if I thought we’d pass a town with a gas station soon (as we were nearly out), I broke down and spoke the three fatal words: “Where ARE we?”

 

She informed me that we were somewhere on Highway 14 or 14D, and when I asked if I could take a peek at the directions, she handed me a notebook in which she’d scrawled “14D to 37 to 200.”

 

I just realized all the pictures of the dirt roads we had to go down are vertical shots, so here are the musicians at the very cool guitar bar in Morelia from that first night.

I just realized all the pictures of the dirt roads we had to go down are vertical shots, so here are the musicians at the very cool guitar bar in Morelia from that first night.

Ummmm….?

What?

 

Feeling my stomach sink to the floor, I realized we didn’t have a map. Or Google directions. Or even (sometimes terribly inaccurate) MapQuest directions.

We didn’t have distances or landmarks or, well, anything.

And barring the generic answer of “Mexico,” we didn’t know where the hell we were.

 

Truth be told, although I admired her devil may care/just ask for directions from the locals approach, all could imagine was my dad’s reaction when he learned I’d be murdered somewhere in the middle of rural Mexico and we didn’t even have a friggin’ map in the car.

 

That stated, when we finally came upon a gas station, I went inside and acquired a Mapa Carreteras immediatemente. Thank god for the thing, too, because we weren’t just off track then…there were several other ‘where the hell are we?” and “which city do we head toward?” moments to be had before it was over.

Three cheers for the mapa!

 

Meanwhile, apparently the male Mexican sense of time/distance is different from that which I like to call reality.

You see, it doesn’t take three hours to go from Guadalajara to Morelia, it takes four or five (depending upon traffic). And it doesn’t take five hours to go to Acapulco from Morelia…it takes TWELVE.

 

That’s right, we rolled up to the resort, sore-butted, bleary eyed, and road weary just around 10pm.

 

Needless to say, I have wizened up, and I will not be returning to Guadalajara via motor vehicle. Nope. Tim has wonderfully, graciously, kindly booked me a flight, and my friend has a Mexican friend accompanying her back to Morelia, if not Guadalajara, so I’m not abandoning her to the elements.

 

Moreover, I’ve learned a valuable lesson about trusting your gut and cutting corners to save a few bucks.

 

Never again will I go against my own instincts in the interest of ‘going along to get along’ or being a good friend, so if you’re planning a big road trip through the Middle East later this year, you can count me out.

 

I’ll be in my own house, knitting a ‘home sweet home’ pillow, with an American flag in one hand and my life insurance policy in the other. And grateful for every minute of it.

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